Ride's space flight is still inspirational

PABLO MARTINEZ / Associated Press
PABLO MARTINEZ / Associated Press
Posted: July 25, 2012

‘Ride, Sally, ride” — the refrain of a 1966 hit song by soul singer Wilson Pickett — became the chant of millions of admirers who watched Sally Ride become the first American woman in space in 1983.

Ride, who died Monday from pancreatic cancer, was beloved for her ability to come across as an ordinary person doing extraordinary things. She made people laugh with self-deprecating comments. Asked whether she would wear a bra in space, she replied, "There is no sag in zero-G."

Ride said she "didn't really think about it that much" when she was making her pioneering flight aboard the space shuttle Challenger. "When I got my first view of Earth," she recalled, it was "just a spectacular view, and a chance to see our planet as a planet."

At age 32, Ride also became the youngest American space traveler at the time. She was also among the first wave of female physicists, having earned a Ph.D. in the discipline prior to becoming an astronaut — a job she got by responding to an ad in the college paper.

Ride, the founder of Sally Ride Science, which provides science-oriented school materials, liked to encourage children, especially girls, by telling them nothing they wanted to achieve was impossible. Her life was proof of that.

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